What Is Adaptive Self-Defense?

What is adaptive self-defense? Here's how we can teach you to defend yourself, no matter your ability or how you move through the world.
Valley Self-Defense
May 8, 2024
What Is Adaptive Self-Defense?

At Valley Self-Defense we’ve always prided ourselves on the belief that self-defense is for everyone. While we have had neurodivergent and Deaf students, we’ve not been qualified to teach those who use wheelchairs, crutches, or those who are blind. In March 2024, five of our instructors were certified by the International Krav Maga Federation to teach adaptive Krav Maga. But what does that mean? And what does adaptive self-defense look like?

What Is Adaptive Krav Maga?

Krav Maga is a self-defense system based on the principles of body movements and tactics a person can use when defending oneself. Adaptive Krav Maga uses those same principles to teach self-defense to people with mobility aids, those who are blind, Deaf, and more. Our focus starts with combatives, which could be punching, kicking, or a modification of either, such as using your cane in place of a body part, and using common objects, including your wheelchair to injure an opponent. Our curriculum includes defending against chokes, weapons (including knives and guns), and more, including situational awareness, preventing attacks, and, for those who are in wheelchairs, defending yourself until you can get back in your chair if you somehow fall out or are pushed or pulled out.

What Does Adaptive Self-Defense Look Like?

There is no one way that adaptive self-defense works: it’s based on your body and your abilities. We also know that adaptive self-defense can look different for one person every day of the week. But we can teach each person based on the mobility aid or item that they’re using for that day. For a wheelchair user, we can show you how to use your footrest as a weapon. If you’re feeling more mobile in the next class, we can show you how to use a cane to hit an opponent. For our friends who are blind, whether you use a white cane or a seeing eye dog, we can work with you on getting close enough to your opponent to defend yourself. Our favorite thing about adaptive self-defense is all in the title - it’s adaptable to you.

What Does An Adaptive Class Look Like?

We are happy to offer private lessons for people who may be anxious about working with others, but we believe that all of our students can learn and benefit from working with each other. You are welcome to join any of our classes and we’ll make sure that you feel safe and comfortable working with your instructor. You can email us before you join and we’ll be happy to talk with you about your specific needs to make sure that class runs as smoothly as possible.

For parents with children who have been bullied, who want their child to learn self-defense, we are happy to work with you in advance to make sure that your child feels empowered and comfortable in class.

Our gym has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullying and harassment and we enforce it. Our policy is on our screen when you come in the door as well as on posters around the building.

What Does Adaptive Self-Defense Certification Look Like?

Our instructors spent over 50 hours learning about mobility aids and how they function; how to use wheelchairs and to stabilize their movement during self-defense situations; how to adapt movements to different abilities; and removing our vision to practice self-defense with no vision. As well as physical movement, we spent classroom timing learning about the medical reasons and causes of mobile disabilities; best practices when teaching people of differing abilities, especially verbage, ways of addressing others, and how to make all people welcome in class; as well as learning about adaptive sports and how self-defense fits into the world of adaptive care.

A person was certified through two tests, including a test where people were given a dangerous situation, a different mobility aid, and asked to adapt the technique to a person's ability in the safest way possible.

I Don’t Want To Damage My Equipment

We know how expensive mobility aids can be and that’s why Valley Self-Defense has both rigid and folding wheelchairs available for adults and children to use, as well as crutches, walkers, and canes.

But Is Everything Else ADA Friendly?

There is a cut-out on the sidewalk at our entrance. While we continue to work on getting handicap-accessible doors, our bathrooms are all handicap accessible with railings and large enough to turn your wheelchair and use our sinks. We have ramps available to transition from our outer rooms to our mat space and our walkways in our gym space are wheelchair-friendly and wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Our AED is also at a height where it can be reached by a wheelchair user and we keep general first aid like bandaids and ice packs at a level where all people can access them.

Really, It’s For Everyone

More than just for people who use mobility aids or devices or those who are blind, adaptive Krav Maga is really for everyone.

Got bad knees? We can adapt Krav Maga for you. Had foot surgery and you need to sit? We can adapt Krav Maga for you. Wondering what you should do if you end up in a situation where you have to fight in full dark? We can adapt Krav Maga for you. Had shoulder surgery and you’ve got one arm in a swing? We can adapt Krav Maga for you. Are you holding a child with one arm? We can adapt Krav Maga for you.

We whole-heartedly believe that self-defense is for everyone and if that’s the case, we have to be able to show any person that they have the power and ability to defend themselves just as they are. And we can.

When it comes to self-defense for any person, every person has the tools they need to defend themselves. At Valley Self-Defense, our job is to help you recognize them, no matter who you are.

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Krav Maga near me? There is! If you're looking for a Krav Maga class near you, Valley Self-Defense is a proud member of the International Krav Maga Federation with schools located across the United States. To find a school near you, visit the IKMF USA website.

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